Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Defending Catachan

by Suneokun

Leafing through and old copy of White Dwarf circa 1998 things looked really great for the Imperial Guard.  Every month a new regiment and planet would be explained in glorious technicolour.  We were introduced to the greenskin hating Valhallans, fighting from their caves on their ice-world.  The noble Tallarn Desert Raiders, who struck out at the Chaos forces which obliterated their green and pleasant land, the Vostroyan first born, the Steel Legion of Armageddon and so on...

Ok, so Valhalla are clearly Russian, and Tallarn are Arab (in fact I can't believe that GW even sell them in the USA) and the Vostroyan are clearly just a little odd.  Not all the old models were good.  The QA team were obviously having a busy day when the Mordian Iron Guard got through.

After returning to W40k after an absence of 10 years, something is missing.  While the tanks and Sentinels still cruise about, and the Chimera is cheaper than ever - the world of the imperial guard has become monotonously Cadian.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a real shame.

I personally like the Cadian model.  The style was clearly stolen straight from the design drawings of 'Aliens', mashed up with a little Paul Verhonen 'Starship Troopers'. So no problems there.  They actually look like a modern army (unlike the Vostroyan - snigger ... snigger!), and their 'on sprue' special weapons options are great (who doesn't like grenade launchers?), the sergeants are nice, but there's one consideration that the designers completely ignored.

Modeling Catachan's is harder (they have a habit of looking very cheesy) but overall much more satisfying


The Cadian sprue represents one of the least useful or customisable sprue available from games workshop.  I personally feel that the sprue was a hashed redesign.  Originally I think the cadian box set had been designed to be a 'snap-fit' design and rehashed only at the last moment.  I highlight the following elements:

Big Heads

The Cadian models heads are very fixed.  They like facing forwards, aren't too keen on facing sideways and are useless at facing backwards (well I had to try...) For some reason certain head and arm choices even stop the cadian from sighting down the end of his gun - which must be challenging in a battlefield condition.

This is particularly the case for the 'open strap' cadian helmet head.  He struggles to look left or right, or in fact anywhere but straight on - no wonder he looks so peeved.

The Running Man

My second gripe is the addition of a 'running' soldier.  The problem with this pair of legs is the styling, he runs like a girl.  The glueing point is so small I have to employ well trained geckos to ensure a good fit.  In addition the first 10 minutes of every one of these models is spent leaning against another model (usually the sergeants chainsword). 

This silly piece of modeling has two uses:
  1. To make lying down heavy bolter and autocannon models (although they look like they wanna pee!)
  2. To create your very own 'dancing and singing' cadian unit.  This group of numpties will prance about the battlefield, singing their hearts out and attracting a disproportionate amount of fire from both sides!
The Sergeant

I like the chainsword. The chainsword is good.  I like the chevrons on his arm and the shout on his lips.  I hate, I mean really hate the way the laspistol is modeled.  It will only work when pointing up in the air.  If you point is down the shoulders all wrong.  I don't understand why this has been done.  It frustrates me.

And Finally ... The Hands!

The soldier hands modelled on the guns.  This is the single most frustrating thing about this sprue - why can't the models have their on hands separate?  There's even one gun in ten that DOES have his hand on the right arm - so why couldn't they all be like this.  This single piece of weird design has given me more pause for thought than any other... this is the biggest piece of evidence that the original design was actually 'snap fit'.

Catachan Reborn

So within this dirge, is there a glimmer of light.  Well, yes, as the post might suggest, the Catachan models are growing on me.  Most people, when given a choice would choose cadian's, but that's like choosing a mitsubishi 4x4 over an antique landrover .  It's pretty and has wonderful production quality, it drives well and has excellent power.  However it also only comes in black or white.  It comes with many options, like storage boxes, but none of them fit quite right.  In addition, all the other builders, plumbers, designers and tossers have bought one.  They are all very similar to yours.  You can try to differentiate it by putting funky styling on it - but actually that just makes you a tosser + 1!

Two modified Catachan figure - demonstrating the flexibility of the options.

Whereas with an antique military landrover you get a vehicle which will never, really drive in a straight line.  But that's kinda fun, in a 'watch the kerb' kinda way.  It has rust and dints, a canvas roof, and engine designed when 'fuel efficiency' was a dirty word, design by a company who used to build tractors and for a customer (the UK Army) who just never care.  It eats fuel, it eats oil, it eats small children (no really).  However, you are driving a vehicle with heritage in North Africa and Northern Ireland, with a past with the SAS and the roadside cred that every 30-40 year old man respects.  You have a vehicle where you can swap out and change pretty much any component and they cost peanuts.  You have a vehicle which every 5 year old child points at and says 'tank'.

This is how I feel about the Catachan's. They are mocked as rambo lookalike's and laughable.  People say their arms are too big and they look like a bunch of Stallones and Arnies.  My answer is why not.  I like my army a little rough and ready - I like my vets more 'Predator' than 'Special Forces'.  The beauty with the sprue design is that it's designed to be tailor any of 50 different ways.  The arms are all interrelated and have their own hands (hurrah!), the weapons can be customised and come with interesting additions like the carried lasgun.  At the core the Catachan's are a customisable dream with every model capable of a different pose.

In short the Catachan's have character.  The Cadian do not.  

I wouldn't advocate a whole army of catachan (that too much ego for anyone to suffer), but not army should be complete without at least one catachan boxset.  That's 25 catachan's and two sentinels to play with, now I love Sentinels, and despair at there current treatment - see 'Stroll on ATST' for more details - but these catachan models can form two vet squads (as I have) or the heavy weapons and models can be easily converted into grist for Shaeffers Last Chancers.

Catachans are a must.

A final treat - My Lightweight Landrover